Lord of the Flies


Chapter 1

The Sound of the Shell

A fair-haired boy of 12 and a fat, bespectacled boy of roughly the same age emerge from the jungle of a deserted island. The fair-haired boy, when asked by the fat boy, says his name is Ralph. Ralph does not ask the fat boy for his name, but evinces indifference and a confidence that is somewhat shocking considering the circumstances: They are the survivors of a plane wreck. Ralph appears to delight in the thought that no grown-ups are alive. It may be that for Ralph grown-ups represent law and that the boy is a symbol of a Rousseau-esque sort of Romanticism/naturalism. Indeed, when Ralph sheds every article of his clothing, rolls nude in the hot sand, and hugs the palm tree, it is quite clear that Golding is making a statement about both human nature and social convention.

Ralph and the fat boy are schoolboys, but any sense of structure (as instilled by the school environment) is abandoned in the second line of the novel, when Ralph is depicted as taking off his school sweater and trailing it behind him with one hand, as though it were an afterthought and not something to be retained.

It is plain that Ralph is a leader, for the fat boy follows him and begins to undress only after he sees Ralph in the nude. However, before the fat boy can remove more than his windbreaker, the two spot another group of boys further down the beach. The fat boy immediately asserts that they should find out all their names and make a list and have a meeting. The fat boy represents a sort of committee mentality, likely a product of the principles of bureaucracy. Oddly enough, the fat boy does not care what they call him, so long as they do not call him “Piggy” as the boys back home did. Ralph laughs hysterically at this pronouncement and immediately calls the fat boy Piggy. Ralph pretends to be a fighter plane shooting down Piggy before falling on the sand himself. Piggy tries to grin through the humiliation.

Golding’s attempt to show the children as tabula rasa blank-slate savages underneath the...

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Essays About Lord of the Flies